Abu Dhabi drubbing for Wasps
Quins crush London rivals' desert dream
By Simon Dilger. Last Updated: 30/01/11 6:48pm
Harlequins celebrated a thumping 38-13 bonus point victory over London rivals Wasps in their historic LV= Cup clash on Sunday.
Wasps had elected to hold their home tie in United Arab Emirates for what was the first ever professional rugby match in the oil-rich Gulf state.
But it was the dominant Quins who held all the cards, running in five tries against the stunning backdrop of the Emirates Palace Hotel on a balmy Abu Dhabi evening.
Wasps, handing debuts to a number of younger players, managed two tries in reply and may now be ruing their decision to give up the home advantage.
First-half scores came through Karl Dickson, George Low and Ceri Jones, while fly-half Nick Evans added nine points with the boot to give the visitors a commanding 24-8 half time lead.
Dickson collected his second after the interval and late try from Sam Smith sealed the victory for Harlequins.
Debutant fly-half Mark Atkinson opened the scoring with a beautiful early strike from out on the left when Wasps were awarded a penalty in the second minute.
Proceedings were halted just short of the five minute mark as medics treated prop Mark Lambert, who was finally stretchered off after a lengthy wait.
Quins took just two minutes after the restart to strike back, scrum-half Dickson spotting a gap on the blindside of a ruck 10 metres out and darting through to score. Evans added the extras to give Quins a 7-3 lead.
The game bore witness to an unusual moment on 14 minutes when the pitch officials were unable to decide on a penalty attempt by Atkinson that passed high over the posts
The decision was referred to the video ref who, after a short wait, decided that the ball had not passed between the shorter than usual uprights.
Harlequins second try came four minutes later when quick ball to the backs from a ruck in front of the posts saw centre George Low barge his way through from close range.
Evans struck the conversion to make it 14-3 but Wasps' reply came almost instantly as they put Quins under pressure inches from their line.
Wing Tom Varndell showed a safe pair of hands to latch onto a loose pass to the touchline and force his way over on the right, but Atkinson could not add the extras.
Evans extended Harlequins' lead to 17-8 with a relatively straightforward penalty in the 28th minute.
Quins went close four minutes later with a dangerous counter attack that saw Argentine winger Gonzalo Commach brought down just short.
But they were unable to maintain their momentum and Haughton was able to clear his lines.
Their third try came with just over a minute to go to half-time when Ceri Jones drove over from a Quins line out close to their rivals' line.
Evans struck an excellent conversion into a stiff breeze from wide on the left to take his side into the break with a commanding 24-8 lead.
The bonus point try came after just six minutes of the second half following a brilliant kick and chase by Evans that took Quins deep into enemy territory.
The fly-half took down Richard Haughton on his try-line and the Wasps winger's clearance pass was adjudged forward, handing Quins an attacking scrum just metres out.
Dickson again spotted a gap in the Wasps defence and blasted through from the set-piece to score, while Evans struck the conversion to take the score to 31-8.
Replacement Christian Wade showed his blistering pace down the touchline and looked to have pulled one back for Wasps on 53 minutes but replays showed that the young winger had dropped the ball.
Wasps gave the scoreboard a touch more respectability with just 10 minutes to go after Varndell made ground with a good break up the right.
The resulting pressure ended in a try-line scramble and after a long deliberation the video official decided that Joe Launchbury had grounded the ball seconds after coming on as a replacement.
Dave Walder, who had replaced Atkinson on 48 minutes missed the conversion though, leaving the scores on 31-13 to Quins.
But Harlequins were still not done, and with just two minutes to go chasing winger Smith found a kind bounce from a great chip by Tom Williams and raced in for his side's fifth.
Evans added two more to take the scoreline to 38-13 and round off a superbly dominant display by Harlequins in the desert nation.